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Medications Need to Be Kept Cool

Summer heat and sunlight can tamper with their effectiveness

(HealthDay is the new name for HealthScoutNews.)

SATURDAY, Aug. 16, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- Summer can be a tricky time to get sick because heat and sunlight can not only complicate the effects of medication, but they can pose a problem for the medicine itself.

Antibiotics such as tetracycline and even over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen can cause sensitivity to the sun, making skin more prone to sunburn, according to the Council on Family Health.

In addition to its light, the sun's heat can also be a problem if the condition you're taking medicine for causes fever. In extreme heat, you could be looking at an increased risk of developing a heat-related illness in the summer.

Signs that it's probably time to get to a cool place include nausea, dizziness, headache, muscle spasms or fatigue, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Likewise, medications often don't fare well in the heat of summer. Medicines left in a hot glove compartment, a beach bag or anywhere in the sun can become ineffective or tainted, and possibly even cause dangerous side effects.

Always make sure all medications are kept in a cool, dry place. And if you're thinking of your medicine cabinet, believe it or not, experts say that might actually not be the safest place. That's because, in addition to heat, humidity can be dangerous to drugs, and in many homes, the bathroom is the most humid room in the house.

Instead, store medications in a dryer, dark place, such as an upper linen closet shelf that is out of the reach of children.

More information

The Council on Family Health offers more information on Making Your Summer Vacation a Healthy One.

SOURCES: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; U.S. Food and Drug Administration; Council on Family Health
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